Abu Dhabi: It was another big year for higher education in the UAE in 2017, with several key developments including university mergers, a new higher education strategy announced in December, and continued moves up the ranks for UAE-based universities.
National Higher Education Strategy
Announced in December by the Ministry of Education, the new strategy is a comprehensive integrated programme aimed at strengthening the country’s higher education standards according to international benchmarks. The strategy is based on four main pillars: quality, relevance, innovation, and efficiency. According to officials, the programme will improve the skill levels of students, and also respond to the market needs of the country. The new strategy will be rolled out over phases, and will also partner with the private sector to ensure that subjects are relevant to what companies are looking for in the job market.
Merged universities start classes
In 2016, it was announced that Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Khalifa University, and the Petroleum Institute would be merging into one combined institute. Less than a year after the announcement, the plan became official when the new university — Khalifa University of Science and Technology — officially started its classes as one merged institution in August this year, with 3,500 students enrolled across its undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. With the merger, the three universities have been able to pool all of their resources together, creating more opportunities for cutting edge research as well as more options for prospective students.
UAE University rankings continue to improve
2017 was another good year in rankings for UAE universities as they continued an upward trend. In the official QS World University Rankings released this year, UAE University (UAEU) was ranked 391 in the world. American University of Sharjah (AUS) and Khalifa University (ranking based before the merger) also featured in the top 500 universities in the world.
In terms of QS regional university rankings in the Arab world, UAE universities featured prominently among the top institutions. UAEU was again ranked fifth, followed by AUS ranked eighth. Zayed University, Khalifa University, University of Sharjah, and American University of Dubai all made the top 30 universities in the Arab world.